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Can Cats Eat Pepperoni

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats can eat small amounts of pepperoni in moderation.
  • Pepperoni is high in fat and sodium, which can cause issues for cats when given in excess.
  • Pepperoni contains spicy flavorings, high sodium contents, and high nitrite contents that can be harmful to cats in excess.
  • Other pizza toppings that cats can safely enjoy include chicken, tuna (stored in fresh water), and anchovies (one or two per day).
  • It's important to avoid giving cats foods that are dangerous for them, such as onions, garlic, chives, grapes, raisins, chocolate, raw eggs, and yeast dough.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Friday 29 March 2024
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Can Cats Eat Pepperoni
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As a pet parent, you know the woes of a pet begging for a helping of your pizza. Out of the many toppings in the world, pepperoni is one of the most common. But can cats eat pepperoni? Is pepperoni bad for cats? And how much is safe for cats?

Generally speaking, pepperoni, like other meat toppings, is safe in moderation. However, it does have its downsides. You should not give your cat more than a couple of slices. Ready to find out more? Settle down with your takeaway and your cat and read on with us today!

Can Cats Have Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is a type of spicy salami made from cured pork and beef. And, as you know, it’s a very popular pizza topping. Pepperoni is a good source of protein, and because cats require a great deal of protein in their diet, you might come to the conclusion that it is good for them. However, pepperoni is also high in fat and sodium. Both of these nutrients will cause issues for your cat when given in excess. So, can cats eat pepperoni?

Indeed, cats can eat small amounts of pepperoni – this is because it is mainly made of meat and is non-toxic to them. However, it is not a good source of nutrition for them, and its spices will make it uncomfortable for your cat to eat. It is also high in fat and will contribute to obesity in cats who are already overweight. As well as this, its high sodium content can contribute to kidney issues later on, especially if given to your cat in excess. When your cat ingests too much sodium, it collects in the bloodstream and puts strain on its kidneys. This leads to lowered kidney function, and then kidney disease. As such, it’s not advisable to give a cat who has kidney disease any pepperoni or other high-sodium foods.

What Does Pepperoni Have That Can Be Harmful to Cats?

While the humble pepperoni may appear harmless, it contains a swathe of ingredients that can be harmful to your cat in excess. These include spicy flavorings, high sodium contents, and high nitrite contents. As such, it’s best to only give pepperoni to your feline friend in extreme moderation. Your cat should not become unwell after eating just one slice, but allowing them the entire serving from the top of your pizza is highly inadvisable.


Many types of pepperoni will include salt, “natural spices”, paprika, and garlic powder in their recipe to give them their signature flavor. Large amounts of salt can lead to kidney disease. Similarly, large amounts of garlic can cause hemolytic anemia, a deadly condition that destroys red blood cells. Paprika, on the other hand, is not toxic to cats but is sometimes used to deter them. Most cats dislike the scent and taste of paprika – the spicy variety in particular is highly offputting to them. When you give your cat a treat, they are trusting that the food you give them is safe – do not offer them any highly spicy food whilst expecting them to simply turn it down if they don’t like it.


An excess of sodium can quickly lead to a condition known as hypernatremia. In acute hypernatremia, intracranial hemorrhage and irreversible brain injury can occur. Oftentimes, patients with this condition present with seizures and hyperthermia. Likewise, chronic hypernatremia can cause cerebral edema with devastating consequences. With this warning out of the way, it’s unlikely that one slice of pepperoni will cause your cat to develop a condition such as this one. It is, however, important to keep it in mind. Do not give your cat high-sodium foods often – this includes canned chicken too. If you combine pepperoni with many other high-sodium foods, the risk of this condition occurring increases massively.


Nitrates and nitrites act as meat preservers. In small amounts, nitrates are beneficial. They are a major source of nitric oxide, an essential compound in your cat’s body. However, excessive amounts of nitrites are highly toxic to our feline friends. In fact, one study found toxic concentrations of sodium nitrite used as a preservative in commercial cat food – as a result of this concentrated dose, three cats lost their lives. This brings us back to pepperoni – this cured meat contains nitrates and nitrites. So, in excess, this can be dangerous for your feline friend.

What Can Cats Have Instead of Pepperoni?

If the dangers of pepperoni have left you disheartened, don’t fear – there are other pizza toppings your cat can safely enjoy with you. Of course, each topping comes with its pros and cons, and you’ll need to make sure that the topping is free of harmful flavorings and spices before offering it to your cat.


Chicken is a great source of protein and phosphorus. Your cat can safely enjoy a piece or two of chicken breast, but it should never be given as a long-term meal replacement. The ideal chicken will be free of oil or seasonings, so it’s best to rinse the chicken well before serving it to your cat, especially if it comes from the top of your pizza. If you have any doubts about the seasonings used on the chicken, do not risk feeding it to your cat.


With its enticing smell and delectable flavor, most cats enjoy eating tuna. As a treat, tuna provides an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it’s important that you only give your cat tuna that is stored in fresh water. When tuna is packed with brine, it comes with a risk of elevating your cat’s sodium levels. Similarly, oils are often too rich for cats to digest, leading to stomach upsets. So, if you have tuna toppings on your pizza, rest assured that a little off the top is unlikely to do them any harm. Just be sure to monitor them for signs of stomach upsets and do not be tempted to give them a second helping!


Just like tuna, anchovies provide an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Your cat can safely eat anchovies regardless of whether they are dried, fresh, or canned. However, it’s best to only give your cat one or two anchovies per day. If you have a couple of anchovies left on your pizza, rest assured that it’s safe to offer one to your feline friend.

Can Cats Eat Pepperoni: FAQs

Still wondering if cats can eat pepperoni? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about what’s safe for your cat, always ask your local vet for advice.

Can cats benefit from pepperoni?

While pepperoni is a tasty reward for a cat, it offers little in the way of nutritional value. It certainly does not replace a complete and balanced diet either. This is because pepperoni is lacking in multiple nutrients that your cat needs to be happy and healthy.

Can I give a little salami to my cat?

Indeed, cats can have a little salami – as you may have already heard from internet culture! One piece given as a treat is unlikely to cause serious illness in your feline friend. However, like all other treats, it’s best given in moderation.

What are other foods strictly forbidden to cats?

There are several foods that are dangerous for cats. Some of the most important include onions, garlic, chives, grapes, raisins, chocolate, raw eggs, and yeast dough.

What other meat should you never feed a cat?

Your cat should not eat raw meat, raw fish, or raw eggs. All of these raw foods can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning in cats. As well as this, raw fish contains enzymes that destroy thiamine, an essential vitamin for cats.

Can cats eat pepperoni? They can, in moderation. If in doubt, hold off on the pizza toppings for your cat.

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